Thanks for being willing to support your friend or loved one as they work through Brace. Please peruse the FAQs below to learn more about how you can help as they recover from trauma. If you only take one thing away from this page, let it be this: treatment is hard, but it works. Have empathy for the fact that there will be days your friend or loved one wants to quit or give up on this program. But remind them that living with post traumatic stress is far harder than completing treatment, and encourage them to keep going. We know from decades of research that these evidence-based methods work, so it’s important that as a suppprt person you help them stay accountable. Remember, they’re counting on you!
What’s going on with my friend/loved one?
Your friend or loved one went through something traumatic that they are struggling to process, which is why they are working through the Brace app.
What is Brace?
Brace is a full, end-to-end program - no therapist or official diagnosis required - for people who are struggling after a trauma. It typically takes about 9-12 weeks (4-5 sessions per week) for a person to graduate. Brace teaches users the same techniques that have been administered in therapy and studied for decades. These techniques are the ‘gold standard’ for PTSD treatment, and studies have shown that the majority of patients who complete treatment see a significant reduction in symptoms!
Does that mean my friend/loved one has PTSD?
Not necessarily, but quite possibly. PTSD affects civilians as well as those who have served in the military, and can result after combat, assault, severe car accidents, the sudden or unexpected loss of a loved one, terrorism, abuse, life-threatening illness, healthcare maltreatment, natural disasters and more. It causes nightmares, insomnia, flashbacks, irritability, panic attacks, hyper-vigilance, self-destructive behaviors, detachment, etc., and can be extremely disruptive to the lives of sufferers.
What does a support person do?
Your friend or loved one wants to beat the symptoms mentioned above. They are not asking you to talk with them about their trauma, in fact if you don’t already know the specifics, do not ask. They are simply asking you to help them stay on track while they work through Brace and try to put the trauma (and the symptoms) in the past.
How can I help them stay on track?
The steps your friend or loved one will go through in Brace are not easy. In fact, some people say that trying to overcome trauma can be more difficult than trauma itself. They will have to face deeply ingrained fears, and dredge up disturbing memories. For this reason, it will likely be difficult for them to complete the program without being held accountable. So you should check in with your friend or loved one once a week to encourage them to stay on track and ask about their progress. They should be doing several sessions per week, so feel free to ask them how many they’ve done this week. Your role is extremely important, if they quit they won’t get any relief!
Which specific steps can I help with?
Your friend or loved one will be asked to face fears that are linked to their trauma. They have likely become afraid of a lot of things which aren’t actually dangerous, but which feel dangerous because of the link to the traumatic event. For example, if they were assaulted at a hotel, perhaps they’ve developed a chronic fear of hotels. This program would then ask them to complete "Activity sessions" where they would go to hotels in person to override the fear and relearn the fact that hotels are not inherently dangerous. When they start these Activities, it can help to have a support person with them. If you live nearby, you can offer to join for Activity sessions. If not, offer to be on the phone with them directly before or afterward. As always, make clear that they do not need to talk about the trauma with you but they can if they want.
They will also be asked to describe and relive the traumatic memory in detail many times - these are called "Memory sessions." Again, this does not mean they’ll want to discuss what happened with you, they will make recordings on their own. They are likely trying to forcibly “forget” what happened because remembering is too painful. But that doesn't work, and the memory will tug at their consciousness, often causing flashbacks and nightmares. The only way to truly gain control over the memory (and resulting symptoms) is to fully process it and put it in its place, which is done by talking it through repeatedly. These Memory sessions are extremely draining, so offer to hang out with them (in person or virtually!) and do something low key that they enjoy afterward. Remind them that it’s ok to be drained and that none of this is easy, but it’s worth it.
Through all the steps, remind them that they’re loved, and remind them of why they’re doing this. Remind them that they can get better, they can beat their symptoms because they are strong survivors who can do anything. Remind them what they’re working toward.
What should I not do?
Do not ask them to tell you about the trauma.
Do not yell at them if they’re behind on the program, just support them and ask how you can help them get back on track.
Do not be surprised if what they need from you changes regularly - dealing with trauma is a wild and emotional experience.
Do not be offended if they are short or even angry with you when you check on them, they aren’t really mad at you, they’re just exhausted from a lot of really difficult work.
Do not give up - they really need you and their success in this program depends on you more than you realize. Keep checking in, keep telling them that they’re loved.
Do not let them quit early - a lot of people feel some initial success after the first Memory session or two and think that means they can stop the program, but there is so much more to be gained, which is why it’s important that they complete all the steps. On the flip side, sometimes people feel worse before they feel better, but you need to help them focus on why persevering is ultimately worth it.
Who created Brace?
Brace was created by a terrorist attack survivor who suffered from severe PTSD. After spending thousands of dollars on therapy and beating PTSD, she wanted to take what she learned and make it accessible to other sufferers at an affordable price.